Even though the likes of Sony’s Michael Lynton and Warner Bros.’ Barry Meyer were in Washington today to make the entertainment industry’s case on issues ranging from piracy to runaway production, there was time for a bit of politicking.
Paramount CEO Brad Grey was to meet with presidential hopeful Barack Obama, adding further mystery to the question of who Grey ultimately will endorse. Last week, Grey attended a fund raiser for Rudolph Giuliani at the Pacific Palisades home of Bill Simon. That, of course, raised speculation that he would support the former New York mayor. When Grey led Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, they repped Giuliani in media deals. But with a wide open field for 2008, endorsements are in demand, and many in Hollywood are giving to multiple candidates or taking a wait and see approach.
Grey was in D.C. along with other execs, celebrities and directors as the MPAA hosted a daylong symposium called “The Business of Show Business.” The event was designed to show there’s substance to a business often dismissed for its stars and style. An example of the figures being tossed around: The industry contributes 1.3 million jobs and more than $30 billion in wages to the U.S. economy.
Oscar-nominated actor Will Smith kicked off the day, comparing movie piracy to stealing and pointing out that it’s not just stars who are hurt, but “wonderful Americans that are out there working very hard to create these wonderful products.”
But as abuzz as D.C. was with the day’s celebrity quotient, Smith admitted that his star power only goes so far.
According to ABC News.com, Smith said, “I was coming in [to D.C.]. And I saw an old man and an old woman, and they came up to me and said, ‘oh listen, everything you do, we are so proud of you. Just keep doing what you do.'”
“And I said, ‘thank you, thank you very much. God bless you.’ And I walked away and the lady screamed, ‘we’re going to vote for you, we love you, Barack!'”